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Life in Chiang Mai


Something beautiful for the Lord Buddha

By Paul Surtees
Visiting a hospital is often an uncomfortable, even stressful activity – both for the patients, nervously awaiting treatment, as well as for the patient’s companions anxiously awaiting the patient’s hoped-for improvement to health and eventual discharge from hospital.
It has fallen to me to spend time in many hospitals around the World, in both categories, in many other lands. But two unexpected sights that I recently observed here in Chiang Mai caught my attention as showing how things should be done, and yet I have never before seen anything like it, anywhere else. I write of the application of ‘’music therapy’’ in the entrance halls of the Chiang Mai University hospitals on Suthep Road.
First, at one of the main entrances, a lovely Buddhist shrine and prayer room has been set up, beautifully-decorated in traditional local style. Here, many a patient and anxious relative can give prayers, or thanks, for the better health of those undergoing treatment within that huge hospital complex.
But that is not all. Nearby, a large Thai traditional musical ensemble is situated, there to perform melodious and decorous religious music by the hour, to accompany the prayers of the faithful. These slow and tranquil traditional melodies themselves must do much to help to reduce the stress levels of the many people nervously awaiting medical treatment there.
In another large hospital entrance hall, again with large numbers of anxious people awaiting their medical fate, another type of soothing live music may be heard. Kindly (and musically-talented) off-duty CMU doctors, nurses and medical students sing beautiful Thai songs, accompanied on the violin and piano. Again, these lovely melodies must do much to relieve the tensions of those many people waiting in that area.
Entering a hospital for treatment would be a time of high anxiety for most of us. These exposures to soothing melodies are therefore well-conceived to lessen the stresses, at a moment when such welcome relief is very much-needed.
The CMU hospital authorities, who make these lovely moments possible, are to be warmly thanked for their inspiration and support to these imaginative and melodic endeavours. The volunteer musical performers are also giving a lot, and their contributions are to be greatly applauded.
In both situations, devout religious sentiments prompted the provision of something beautiful, to calm the troubled souls, for the sake of the Lord Buddha.
I was truly touched to see it. Other hospitals around the world could learn much from this daily application of the magic of music, right here in Chiang Mai.

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Something beautiful for the Lord Buddha